Kid Capri, Styles P, Clark Kent & Spinderella Discuss The Power Of ’90s Hip-Hop

This Sunday, July 18, Power Book III: Raising Kanan will premiere on STARZ and the STARZ App. Following six seasons of Power, this latest extension travels back to 1991 to focus on the origin story surrounding Kanan Stark. Following a performance by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson in the original series, Mekai Curtis now plays Raising Kanan‘s title character. The prequel series explores the title character’s upbringing in 1991 Queens and shows audiences how he became the captivating persona from Power.

With an official trailer that uses LL Cool J’s classic “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Power Book III: Raising Kanan captures 1991’s intersection of music, culture, fashion, and the streets—especially in Queens, New York. Styles P was born in Corona, Queens, before growing up in nearby Yonkers. Admittedly a Hip-Hop obsessed teenager in ’91, he witnessed the music set a course for change and empowerment. “It was the idea of Black people counting on Hip-Hop. From our perspective, you have a people with a lost history and lost language already coming up behind the 8-ball, trying to get by in the world. Here, you have Hip-Hop, and it’s now our world, our language, our religion, our culture.” The LOX co-founder traces today’s Hip-Hop attitudes back 30 years. “You see how much money these young boys are making now; that’s because of the artists in the ’90s and how they felt about, ‘whose America is this?’ I think when we realized that we couldn’t get ‘The American Dream’ the typical way, then we had to figure out how to become entrepreneurs and use our brains and our talents to put us in better positions.”

During the early ’90s, DJ Clark Kent was a figure respected in the music and the streets. The Brooklyn native was a fixture behind the turntables in the clubs, as well as a label A&R and fashion figure. “It was the era of new things about to be happening,” he claims. “At the precise moment, it was almost the real, real beginning of ‘ghetto fabulous.’” Despite differing budgets, worlds intermingled, all in the name of looking fly. “That’s why you could be in the club, and somebody could be in a $4,000 mink coat, and the next person could be in a bubble-goose.” A retro sneaker aficionado, Clark Kent’s love of Nike Air Force 1’s and Jordan’s transcends, as do classic leather jackets by Pelle Pelle and others.

Thirty years ago, Spinderellas was another top DJ, riding high with Salt-N-Pepa’s gold single “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Like Clark Kent, she keeps the ‘90s aesthetic going. “I wore big earrings back then; I’m still wearing big earrings,” she notes with a laugh. The DJ/producer recalls her favorite pastime, hitting up record stores like Downtown Brooklyn’s Beat Street Records, digging for double copies of cutting-edge Rap 12″ singles. “That was a time where we were definitely noticing the differences in the boroughs,” notes the author of an upcoming memoir. “Of course, you had the battle with Bronx and Queens at the time, and Brooklyn was always makin’ noise. That was the door-opening for a new Hip-Hop to emerge.” From LL to Mobb Deep to 50 Cent, the once-overlooked borough made its mark through music and the streets.

Throughout the ‘90s, Kid Capri reigned in New York’s clubs while supplying mixtapes for its streets. He became Hip-Hop’s first DJ to reach star status without a group or a preexisting radio show. “Queens had a different kind of sound, a different kind of look—how they dressed and how they moved,” he explains. “They had a lot of street cats out there that was really, really crazy.” While party-goers may have had dangerous reputations, the world-class DJ/producer insisted on creating a good time for all. In 1991, he released his debut album, The Tape, on the same Cold Chillin’ home to Marley Marl’s Juice Crew. During that same era, he accepted a residency on Def Comedy Jam the following year. He celebrates the early 1990s as a time when Hip-Hop could show its dimensions. Accentuated by the music videos, acts like Kid ‘N Play and A Tribe Called Quest could exist alongside Public Enemy and N.W.A. Hip-Hop could be upscale, gangsta, and colorful, all at once.

The famed DJ also describes an era when the Kanan Stark’s of the world influenced culture. “I was putting the breakbeats with the R&B artists, and it kind of molded the ’90s.” It makes perfect sense why a film like New Jack City and the Uptown Records’ New Jack Swing dominated. “The music was almost the soundtrack of the drug dealers,” he says. Beyond the five boroughs, the world took note. “You had a chance to see videos with people dressing up, drinking champagne, lookin’ a certain kind of way. Other places that wanted to be like New York seen that, and they adapted to it where their language became different.”

As veterans of the era and purveyors of Hip-Hop history, Spinderella, Kid Capri, Clark Kent, and Styles look forward to Power Book III: Raising Kanan. “I expect to see a lot of familiar faces or people portrayed,” Kid Capri proclaims. Of his former label-mate, he says, “50 knows how things went in the street, so I’m sure that will come across on the screen.” Power EP’s Fif and Courtney A Kemp demonstrated that knowledge with Power. “I think Raising Kanan is gonna be a step up,” says Kid Capri. Spinderella notes that she especially enjoyed the plotlines dealing with Shawn Starks, the son of Kanan, and is eager for more aspects to the story. Styles adds, “I’m looking forward to seeing the history of Kanan, ’cause his character was so powerful and interesting.” He champions the Power team for making a series worthy of spinoffs. Clark Kent “I’m anticipating that they get the music right and the look right—I hope they’re driving the right cars, wearing the right jewelry,” says the decorated producer who has previously worked with the actor who played Kanan Stark in Power. “When I look at it, I wanna go, ‘Yeah, that’s ‘91.’ My answer comes from a place of ‘I really did it’” he says. He believes the series creators series’ co-creator have that same vision. “50 really lived it [too], so it makes sense.”

Tune into Power Book III: Raising Kanan premiering July 18 on Starz.